How to maintain your kokedama?
Before starting with the very specific needs of some kokedama and go to more sophisticated maintenance sheets per plant, let’s look at the basic needs of a kokedama. Watering, maintaining humidity and a good place for your kokedama are the keys to success.
Creation and maintenance:
There is not only one way to realize a kokedama, there are several schools. The most important is to adapt the construction of this small moss ball to the needs of the plant.
If the foam ball is not appropriate to the conditions of life required of the plant inside it will not live long. Some plants will require a very retentive mix or very aerated and dry … This is why there is no one way to do, but many ways todo each one adapted to a specific need .
Everyone has their little preferences regarding the materials used to create the kokedama. For my part I do not use Keto and Akadama because they come from Japan and they can be easily substituted by local products: cheap, no transportation, lower ecological footprint … For sphagnum unfortunately, it comes from Chile and there is no convenient alternative.
Nevertheless we can see together how to prepare the mixture based on Keto if you are interested.
Moss and humidity:
The moss is the common denominator of all kokedama. To live and grow it requires a high and regular water intake moisture. Needless to say that the humidity in a home is not at all adapted to the culture of the moss (and fortunately for our interiors). We must therefore increase locally available moisture for the moss ball.
For this, two simple solutions: the tray with clay pebbles or sand tray. In both cases the goal is to maintain a wetland just below the moss ball without soak in water. Let the ball soak in a little water is the worst solution because it will inevitably lead to the death of the plant by the roots rot.
Tray clay balls is a simple and effective solution inside. Just have a small container that is filled with clay pebbles. Then add water to reach a little below the level of the balls. The kokedama are then placed on the clay balls. The water which is evaporated directly benefits the plants located above. It is then necessary sometimes top up the water level in the tank. This does not exempt watering.
This kind of plates is already used by bonsai enthusiasts for maintaining mame bonsai and accompanying plants (shitakusa and kusamono) because they have the same difficulties watering. Here are some pictures of culture trays used in Japan by master HIRAMATSU at syunsyou-en.
The tray of sand or gravel is rather a preferred solution for outdoor but can also be used indoors. The idea is the same, a tank is filled with fine sand which is moistened. Outdoors you can use a small pot with drainage holes, is then placed a large sheet of paper at the bottom so that the sand does not escape (unlike water). This little trick allows to avoid seeing kokedama soak in water at the first rain if it is not sheltered. Can be observed on the photos above that the plates are not placed directly on the ground to prevent pests (snails, slugs …) will come devastate plants.
Watering kokedama :
The humidity created does not exempt watering. There are several ways to water your kokedama. You can use a watering can or water by dipping for a well penetration depth of the water (if there is a significant need rehydration due to a lack of care for a long time).
Watering should be done immediately after the creation of kokedama because handling the mixture dries as the venting of plant roots. Then you need to water when necessary.
Watering frequency should be adapted at the exposure of your kokedama, plants they contain. And this is where it gets complicated. Often we want a formula for knowing when to water but there is not. A hot and dry weather with sun dries quickly and a kokedama we know, however cloudy, but with wind will be equally dangerous.
If the foam can revive after a good watering even if it is completely dry, it does not go well for the plant it accompanies. So watch your kokedama daily and think about watering.